Mary Barrett, ex Inchinnan
Mary Barrett was aged 18 when she arrived in Sydney on the Inchinnan. She was Roman Catholic, and claimed that she could read, but not write. Her parents, Harry and Catherine, were both dead.
The Immigration Agent recorded that Mary Barrett was from "Adragool" (Addergoole). Addergoole is a small parish in North Mayo, known for its connection with the Titanic; 14 people from Addergoole sailed on the Titanic, and 11 of these died. More information about the "Addergoole Fourteen" can be found on the Addergoole Titanic Society website here.
Mary Barrett complained to the Immigration Agent about the Chief Mate of the Inchinnan, Alexander Taylor. Soon after their arrival in Sydney, she was called as a witness at his trial at Sydney's Central Criminal Court. Alexander Taylor had been accused of assault by another Mayo orphan girl, Mary Stephens from Castlebar; he was found guilty by the jury.
Mary Barrett's evidence was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald's reporting of the trial on 8 March 1849. She was detailed in her description of what happened to Mary Barrett, and was also cross-examined.
The courtroom reporting provides small insights into relationships between the girls on the ship. A closeness between the two Mayo girls could be indicated by the strength of Mary Barrett's supporting evidence, and that Mary Stephens had showed Mary Barrett the bruises that resulted from the assault.
Conversely, conflict between some girls is also indicated. Catherine McKegg (Catherine McKeighe from County Galway) contradicted the evidence given by both Mary Stephens and Mary Barrett, claiming that "the prisoner used no violence". Mary Stephens, in her testimony, said that "Kitty McKegg" "must have seen the prisoner strike her if she did not shut her eyes".
Mary Barrett claimed that Kitty McKegg, who assisted the Chief Mate in serving out provisions, was called "the third mate". Catherine McKegg testified that she "was called the third mate on board as a nickname", but that she "was not a sweetheart of the prisoner's". She went on to describe Mary Stephens as "a stubbon girl".
The voices of the Irish orphan girls is very rarely heard; the reporting of the case of the Inchinnan reveals that given the opportunity, the girls had very much to say indeed.
© Barbara Barclay (2015)